London Report: Fed’s hint on rates steadies FTSE but Marks loses Spark

BRITAIN’S top share index traded just above flat yesterday, buoyed by the banking sector after the Federal Reserve indicated it would keep interest rates lower for longer than previously anticipated.

The FTSE 100 was up just 6.36 points or 0.1 per cent at 6,641.97 at the close, with financial firms contributing about half the gains.

Banks rose 0.6 per cent after minutes of the Federal Reserve’s most recent meeting triggered a shift in expectations of when US interest rates will start to rise.

Other growth-sensitive stocks, such as mining companies, managed only short-lived gains as China ruled out major stimulus to fight a short-term slowdown.

Marks & Spencer also gave away early gains. The retailer had traded as much as three per cent higher in morning deals, following a trading update that showed its turnaround programme may finally be getting results. It then headed into negative territory, down 3.1 per cent on the day to be the biggest faller on the index.